Proud Clarets Lose at Villa Park in Extra Time.
Wednesday 27th October 2010 @7:45pm Kick Off
Attendance: 34,618 (3000 Clarets)
The Clarets played their hearts out against Premier League, Aston Villa in the Carling Cup 4th round clash at Villa Park last night. Soaking up all the pressure in defence and having numerous chances in attack especially in the second half they took the game to Villa and nearly sneaked a result. It looked all over though for Burnley with four minutes of normal time remaining after Heskey, very much against the run of play had put Villa ahead but three minutes later we were level with Carlisle heading home on 89 minutes to force extra time. The Villa Park jinx though on this bogey ground for the Clarets was about to kick in! Substitute Stewart Downing, who has a habit of scoring against the Clarets thumped home a long-range effort in extra time after 96 minutes to make the score 2-1 to Villa. Burnley to their credit though rallied and their task got easier after Marc Albrighton was sent off for a tug on Wade Elliott.
It was the Clarets who had the upper hand putting Villa, now down to ten men under considerable pressure. We had numerous chances to equalise but it just wasn`t going to be our night with Villa keeper Brad Friedel in sparking form and at times our shooting accuracy deserting us.
Sadly then we won`t be in the hat for the Carling Cup quarter final draw this Saturday but there was certainly no shame in this defeat and we can take heart from this performance and hold our heads high. We can be confident now taking the field against Championship league leaders, QPR at Loftus Road this Saturday and we have hopefully put that miserable 4-0 home defeat to Reading last Saturday behind us.
Brian Laws for the start of the Villa clash certainly wrung the changes compared to the eighteen selected for the Royals match.
He made six changes in total. As expected Lee Grant took over from Jensen in goal. Leon Cort was not available for selection after picking up a red card for a second bookable offence in the game against Reading and automatically receiving a one-match ban but Clarke Carlisle returned for his first match since the Millwall game at The Den He had completed his three-match suspension following the straight red card incident and was named in the starting eleven along with Michael Duff in the centre of defence. Andre Bikey, perhaps surprisingly sat this one out on the bench.
Chris Eagles was rested totally and was not named in the eighteen with Wallace getting a start down the flank. Chris iwelumo and Wade Elliott were also substitutes in this game giving an opportunity for Martin Paterson to shine. Captain, Graham Alexander also returned to the starting eleven taking on a more traditional midfield role with Jack Cork keeping the holding midfield job although they did swop round for the start of the second half.
In summary we lined up as follows:
Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Alexander, Cork, Marney, Wallace, Paterson, Rodriguez
Subs: Jensen, Edgar, Bikey, Easton, Elliott, Iwelumo, Thompson
Villa too made some changes but with the depth of quality in their squad it was always going to be difficult to beat the Premier league outfit. John Carew though had to withdraw from the team just before kick off with illness and with no recognised striker available, Ashley Young led the line.
Cheshire referee, Mike Jones got the game underway.
The Clarets started brightly with Ross Wallace in particular looking lively and getting in a couple of early passes that Paterson just failed to get on the end of. Villa though had plenty of pace with both Young and Ireland ready to pounce on the break but our back four seemed to soak up most of the pressure and where they didn`t Grant was on hand to save the danger. Young set up a shot for Ireland but Grant was equal to the attempt saving well.
Midway through the first half, Grant made an amazing double save after Villa had once more attacked on the break. Ireland and Young were again involved in an advance down the right. Young pulled the ball back into the path of Reo Coker and he looked certain to score before Grant came to the rescue. Even then the ball fell to Barry Bannan, and Grant had to spread himself wide and smother the ball.
Burnley at times were their own worst enemy dangerously giving away possession all to easily but our back four held firm and mopped the danger up on countless occasions. Carlisle and Duff were particularly outstanding. Villa`s attempts on goal though were limited. Young had one opportunity to score but dragged his shot wide and the Clarets went into the break with both teams looking for a breakthrough goal.
Brian Laws made no changes for the start of the second half except for Alexander now taking over the holding midfield role from Jack Cork who would now have more freedom to room.
Paterson was quickly into action getting over a cross which Rodriguez just failed to connect with at the far post. On 55 minutes, Burnley were awarded a free-kick which was quickly taken by Alexander to release Paterson. Pato threw off the defender, Clark cutting inside to tee up a low curing shot that flew just wide.
Despite Heskey coming on for Villa to liven up their attack, it was the Clarets who looked the most likely to break the deadlock and now it was Villa who could thank their keeper for a double-save. The former Blackburn Rovers stopper first palmed away an attempt by Paterson on the turn and from Rodriguez`s follow up header saved well again with the ball looking certain to go into the top corner of the net.
It was then Friedel again who later denied Rodriguez after tipping Jay Rod`s header over the bar to concede a corner. Rodriguez was causing the Villa defence all sorts of problems and from the resulting corner he came close again this time hitting the side netting.
Burnley were now pressing and Villa were clearly struggling. Houllier decided to bring on Stewart Downing after 64 minutes with the home crowd getting restless. The winger scored two goals against the Clarets the last time we played at Villa Park with Burnley ultimately suffering a 5-2 defeat in the Premier League clash last season. It looked like he was going to score again after 72 minutes with only Grant to beat. Somehow though, he sliced his shot well wide and the Clarets could breathe a sigh of relief.
Our luck though finally deserted us with four minutes of the game remaining and again it was a break by Villa causing problems. A cross by Young was met by pesky Heskey and he slid the ball home from eight yards out to put Villa 1-0 up. It looked liked curtains for the Clarets but with one minute of normal time remaining we got the equaliser we so richly deserved. Ross Wallace picking up a pass from Paterson got in a cross past the back post for Carlisle to beat the challenge of three defenders and squeeze his header inside the foot of the post to force extra time.
The Clarets though were soon behind again in the first period and five minutes from the restart, it was that man Downing who would yet again score against Burnley. The Clarets defence averted the first danger but Downing regained possession and was given far too much room allowing him to unleash a shot which beat Grant with the ball flying into the top corner of the net.
That was a sickener but there was still hope for the Clarets who were not going to throw in the towel just yet. Steven Thompson then put Elliott through on goal but just outside the box and just about to shoot he was pushed over by Albrighton and the referee had no option but to send the Villa man off and award a free-kick to the Clarets.
Now we had a really good chance to rescue the night with Villa down to ten men and we nearly scored almost instantly from the free kick. Wallace fired past the wall but couldn`t beat Friedel who yet again pulled off a great save. The loose ball though fell to Mears and he fired the ball back into the heart of the Villa defence. The ball hit the hand of Lichaj as he attempted to block the danger and we were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty.
Friedel by now was fast becoming Burnley`s biggest thorn in their side and again he denied the Clarets after Thompson had headed down to tee up Elliott to shoot.
Friedel would also have the last laugh with just seconds of the game remaining and the Clarets now trying everything with a three-prong attack of Iwelumo, Thompson and Rodriguez. This time he saved well from an attempt by Mears and you could tell it wasn`t going to be our night when from the rebound, Chris Iwelumo headed the ball down only for Cuellar to clear off the line.
So that was it and once more we came away from Villa Park empty handed but at least we held our own in this match and took the game to a strong Premier League side. Onwards and upwards!
Aston Villa: Friedel, Clark, Beye, Cuellar, Lichaj, Sidwell (Collins 118), Young, Ireland (Heskey 59), Albrighton, Reo-Coker, Bannan (Downing 64)
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Hogg, Johnson, Delfouneso
Goals: Heskey 86, Downing 96
Booked: Red Card for Albrighton Yellow Cards for Reo-Coker, Heskey
Burnley: Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Alexander, Cork (Thompson 87), Marney (Elliott 69), Wallace, Paterson (Iwelumo 106), Rodriguez
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Edgar, Bikey, Easton
Goal: Carlisle 89
Possession: 56% Aston Villa, 44% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Mike Jones (Cheshire)
On balance though we award our Star Player award to Clarke Carlisle, solid as a rock in defence and of course popping up to score late on to equalise and take the match into extra time.